It is now 18 months since Michael Gunner suspended the Indigenous Employment Provision Sum with no replacement policy in sight, in yet another sign that Territory Labor is the party that excludes Aboriginal people.
The Indigenous Employment Provision Sum was introduced to give Northern Territory Aboriginal small businesses an opportunity at winning Northern Territory Government contracts. When the Gunner Government announced it was suspending the initiative on 4 August 2017 because of allegations of mismanagement, I did not seek to politicise that decision. In fact, I wrote to Michael Gunner offering the resources of the Federal Government and Supply Nation to help the Northern Territory develop a new policy.
Disappointingly that offer has not been taken up and Territory Aboriginal businesses languish 18 months on.
The Commonwealth Government’s Indigenous Procurement Policy (IPP) has shown the incredible impact that properly targeted Indigenous business policies can have for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.
Since the Coalition Government introduced the IPP in July 2015 there have been over 1,473 Indigenous businesses winning 11,933 Commonwealth contracts worth over $1.83 billion. This has led to a 30 per cent increase in the number of Indigenous Australians in small business since the 2011 Census and a 23.3 per cent increase in the number of Indigenous Australians with a job.
Why hasn’t the Gunner Government used the successful blueprint of the IPP as other State Governments have done?
The Northern Territory Department of Infrastructure, Planning and Logistics own website (https://dipl.nt.gov.au/news/changes-to-indigenous-procurement-policy) still says the “Northern Territory Government will work with businesses and industry stakeholders to develop an alternative policy which will be in place [by] January 2018”. The Gunner Government has missed its own deadline by over a year. Michael Gunner is clearly not serious about supporting Territory Aboriginal businesses.
Unfortunately Labor has form in excluding Indigenous businesses. In Federal Labor’s last year of Government there were 30 Indigenous businesses winning just $6.2 million in Commonwealth contracts in 2012-13, in contrast under the Coalition there have been over 1,473 Indigenous businesses winning $1.83 billion of Commonwealth contracts.
Territory Labor has always hated small businesses. It is in their DNA. Small business workers are rarely Union members and therefore second class citizens in Labor eyes.
The Gunner Government’s lack of support for Aboriginal businesses is also shown it its opposition to Aboriginal involvement in remote housing works.
It is embarrassing that Michael Gunner has been caught up failing to introduce an Indigenous procurement policy for the last 18 months, hoping no one will realise.
It’s time Michael Gunner stood up for Aboriginal businesses and jobs for Territorians.